As marketers, we have all been there: staring at a product, wondering how to turn it into THE product. Going through all its wonderful features, figuring out how to convince the customer it is the best thing ever made on Earth. What if there’s no need to?
Each day, our customers are being attacked by dozens of marketing gimmicks and baits and the real result of this is that they have learned to distinguish the lies from the truth. And nobody likes being lied to.
To gain customers’ trust, you need to understand the value of: being flawesome and being transparent.
The most trusted brands are not flawless nor are they awesome. The best ones are flawesome, which is a term coined by Henry Mason of trendwatching.com.
The main idea behind this is that we are attracted to brands which are not afraid to admit their flaws and which are able to turn them into assets – just like it works between people – nobody likes the perfect ones.
Examples of brands which turned their flaws into assets include: Stella Artois (“Reassuringly expensive”), Guinness (“Good things come to those who wait”) or the Polish bank BZ WBK (with its Bank of Ideas allowing users to publicly suggest and rate ways to improve the service).
Bottom line: admit to and embrace your flaws. But mostly, never lie about them.
The second relevant term is transparency, advocated by Neil Patel as “the new marketing”.
What’s the core of it? Being transparent is about being open about your business, the problems that you may be facing and about your financial numbers. All that to gain trust and loyal followers.
How to be transparent and use it for your advantage?
1. Join a community that’s really relevant to your business. Less is more. It is better to have 10 000 followers out of whom 8 000 buy your services than to have 100 000 out of whom 2 000 purchase your goods. Measure the relevancy by engagement on social media, CTRs and CRs.
2. Keep an open dialogue with your audience. Give them updates, provide valuable insights, tools and resources. Give them information and show gratitude for their attention.
3. Listen to negative feedback, but treat the strongest critics as indicators of speaking to the wrong audience. Haters gonna hate – relevant audience gives feedback.
4. Most importantly – tell the truth. When you don’t keep secrets and go out in the open you gain advantage over the competition in the eyes of the audience.
Remember though that transparency is not a substitute for content. If you want to be listened to, provide value for the users. Show what you are talking about – not just tell. Display numbers and proofs.
Most relevant examples of transparency are:
Moz – a SEO company which has decided to publish annual finance reports for full transparency (http://moz.com/blog/mozs-2013-year-in-review) and has become the most talked about marketing technology brand after Google.
Buffer – a social media technology company. They decided to publish not only their revenue reports & performance analyses but also their salary system (https://open.bufferapp.com/introducing-open-salaries-at-buffer-including-our-transparent-formula-and-all-individual-salaries/) and received almost 400 comments on their blog post, not to mention the publicity and attention.
Patagonia – outdoor clothing company who published footprint chronicles of their supply chain (http://www.patagonia.com/us/footprint/) and info about the negative aspects of each used garment. They also urged their customers to buy fewer new products to save the environment, which increased their sales by almost one-third within 9 months from the start of the campaign – which didn’t necessarily make the producers sad for the failure of their campaign.
So: it’s high time we all consider to stop praising our products and start thinking about their flaws. Those might be the best things we’ve got.